Internalizing Our Oppression: Exhibit A

NOTE:  This post is meant to Educate, not Shame-u-cate.  Most girls and women carry some degree of internalized misogyny; how can we not when as young, impressionable children we’re thrown into the predatory colonist (sexist/racist/ableist/transphobic/ageist/homophobic) culture and have no choice but to absorb it like a sponge?

One of my readers, Kathryn, recently informed me of this sexist article written by an elderly (presumably white ) female blogger who identifies as feminist and goes by the name Cranky Caregiver (sure hope she’s not acting cranky when care-taking the needs of the dependent people in her care!).  This is Cranky’s article in question:

I’m a Baby Boomer and, yes, I was there when Women’s Lib was born.  Our generation of women were up in arms; burning bras and bowing at the knees of Gloria Steinem.  We made a lot of changes, and the movement continues today as women continue to fight for equality among men. And that is a wonderful thing.   But, in our battles, did we lose something along the way?  I’m afraid we did.

So intent on being a man’s equal; we confused the poor guys.  They stopped treating us as ladies.  And why?  Because women stopped acting like ladies.  They changed their dresses for harsh looking business suits and then moved on to wearing clothes that barely cover their privates.  Women today freely use language that shocks even the most hardened construction worker.  They boast about their sexual adventures and jump into bed indiscriminately. They throw their morals to the wind along with the respect of men.  Is it any wonder that men don’t know how to be gentlemen anymore?

To keep up with these changes, the men have evolved also.  From calling young women Miss, they now refer to them as “bitches.”  If they open a door for a young girl, it’s often so they can ogle her butt that’s hanging out of those Daisy Dukes.

Did we win the war but lose the battle?  Can’t we find an even balance between feminine and feminism?  I think we can.  There are women such as: Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Diane Sawyer who have achieved all the goals we worked for in Women’s Lib but have always acted and looked like ladies.

On a personal note, I miss Chivalry.  If you’ve never experienced the respect shown by a man holding a door for you; pulling out your chair when you reach the table or settling for a good night kiss on that first date..you have missed out on some very special moments.  I know I miss those moments.

So, in our fight to continue winning the war on equality; let’s not give up our right to be a lady.  Let’s show the world that we can be both strong and feminine at the same time.  Maybe men will start to bring back Chivalry.

To all the men who have continued to treat women with the respect they deserve, I applaud you!  And to all the women who have earned that respect without sacrificing her femininity, you are the true winners of the Women’s Lib Movement!  Peace, Sisters!

Where does one start?  Since I am still on the fence about calling myself a feminist (especially after seeing one blood bath after another that goes on within (mainly white) feminist circles where privileged women sabotage and try to massacre, power-over, silence and invalidate the most downtrodden women), I’ll just list my immediate thoughts about Cranky’s article (which may or may not constitute as feminist analysis), and then share Kathryn’s astute feminist analysis of it.

  1. Was/is Women’s Lib not a mostly a conservative, white, middle-class women’s movement?  If so, what is so progressive about fighting to maintain the bigger socio-cultural and economic status quo?  So that a select few women can participate with their male counterparts in global colonization?
  2. Who wants to be (white) men’s equal (or their assimilated/white-washed brothers of color)?  I want to be NOTHING like the colonizing, oppressive man-children tyrants currently running the political shit-show that is destroying whole cultures and lives globally; men who Lydia Lunch says “are so fucking afraid to die that they have to kill everything in sight.”
  3. I do understand and somewhat agree with Cranky’s observation that men are confused.  I personally feel that females (and 2-Spirited/trans/Intersex) are the most insightful, perceptive and intuitive among humans (and men have their own unique traits), so male confusion around females is understandable, especially when females give mixed signals, such as dating assholes who treat us like shit (which stems from low self-worth), while not giving the time of day to “nice” guys and girls who show us interest, thereby giving the message that in order to get with us, you gotta treat us like shit.  From a Big Picture (colonist culture) perspective I think there is confusion among BOTH sexes around our identities in general, and how to relate on a human to human level in a world which, as John Trudell says, is rapidly forgetting what it means to be human.  This has to do with ALL of our relations.
  4. There’s a difference between liberal sex and indiscriminate sex.  Of course we should be discerning with who we have sex with; men and women should be having the kind (and quantity) of consensual sex we want and need and that makes all parties feel good.
  5. “Harsh” business suits on women who also happen to have a potty mouth is HOT, yo!
  6. If Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Diane Sawyer are our she-roes, then we aren’t dreaming hard enough.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against these women, I just don’t think they hold a candle to women such as those I’ve featured in my Feminist Rag Winner awards.
  7. What does “feminine” MEAN?  To me, it’s an energy, an intangible “thing”, an essence that you just energetically/spiritually feel people.  We all have masculine and feminine energies; many of us have more of one than another, and a select special few among us have equally strong and balanced female AND male energies/Spirits (i.e. many who fall under the LGBTQI2 umbrella and whose minds aren’t too mined or Spirits totally eaten by the predatory colonist culture).
  8. I believe women can be strong and feminine if we’re talking about feminine ENERGIES, not feminine clothing and submissive behavior.
  9. We must also acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the HELL out of masculine women and stop erasing their very important and valuable (and sexaaay!) existence in this world!  So in addition to Cranky’s article being sexist, it’s also homophobic by virtue of her distaste for masculine women, many of whom are lesbian/dyke/queer.
  10. We women play a role in our oppression when we contribute to our own and other females’ oppression, and we must take personal responsibility for it.  So too must men, an entire sex class who Cranky thinks do no wrong and get a free pass in all this:

Men need to take responsibility for using their penises like loaded weapons. They need to take responsibility for all the unwanted pregnancies their sexual selfishness caused and the childbirth injuries (including maternal death) to women they inflicted, for all the rapes they commit, for the abortion clinics they bombed, and for the abortion doctors they shot. They need to take responsibility fpr the violence they resorted to in order to force women and minorities out of good-paying union jobs that were — and still are — white male dominated. And they need to take responsibility for all the porn they consume as if it’s their right to objectify and commodify women and children. They need to take responsibility for the domestic terrorism committed by the anti-woman, anti-black, anti-Jewish gun-toting, tax-protesting jerks they supported and sympathized with. They need to take responsibility for the MRA bowel movement which gave us 31 states that grant rapists “fathers’ rights” over the children they sired by rape with visitation and joint custody. And they need to take responsibility for being war hawks and bullies. They need to do their part to dismantle patriarchy and all its systems of unearned privileges. And they need to ditch their sense of entitlement.

It was all these things that men refuse to take responsibility for that caused their alienation and earned contempt from feminists, racial justice activists, and “snobby libruls” whom they blame for problems that they brought on themselves. [From this article by the brilliant Jacqueline S. Homan]

That’s my 2 cents on the matter.  Below is Kathryn’s feminist analysis of Cranky’s article in a 3-part comment series which was erased by Cranky because she felt threatened when challenged on her views:

COMMENT 1 BY KATHRYN (CRANKY THE BLOG OWNER DECLINED TO PUBLISH)

“Changed their dresses for harsh looking business suits?” Are you serious? Before graduating from law school, I worked one summer for a firm that required skirts and hose only, no pants for women. Needless to say, I did not accept their offer of a permanent position. If I don’t have the option of wearing a jacket and pants combination, I won’t work there. I suspect former Secretary of State Rodham Clinton would agree.

Your argument would be better served if you more thoroughly explained your definition of a lady, because your apparent definition of a “lady” is a dress-encased, non-free-language using, self-repressing nitwit who uses/withholds sex to get MEN’S respect. You just defined a woman by her modest fashion sense, self-censorship of her language, chastity, and whether men respect her or not based solely on how she conducts herself sexually. Who else in modern culture uses such shallow and archaic definitions of womanhood? Oh wait, that would be the Taliban. I thought I was reading the opinion of an American grandmother, but now I’m confused; perhaps my slutty thong is cutting off the circulation to my delicate feminine brain again.

You might want to read the paper about the recent rash of rapes in Egypt, just to name one example, and see just how much your version of ladylike behavior is bringing out the chivalry in men. (Egyptian Women Blamed for Sexual Assaults, New York Times, March 26, 2013.) It’s interesting how you seem to connect men’s obligation to behave in a civilized fashion to women’s choices in their clothing and sexuality. I don’t think Steinem is a big fan of the “she was asking for it” defense. We may have come a long way baby, but I wonder about you. If the “poor guys” are so confused by cursing, business-suited, presumed non-virgins that they can’t figure out how to behave in society, they should be locked up in assisted-living centers out of harm’s way where their fragile male selves can be cared for and where they can’t hurt anyone. They should not be pitied.

In the spirit of your era, fuck the draft, let’s go burn some granny dresses! (I’m certainly not going to burn the expensive underwear that I provocatively flash at every opportunity.) Incidentally, since the opinions and respect of men seem to be so important to you, I had my pre-teen son, who automatically opens doors and pulls out chairs for women, read your article. It might interest you to know that the young man of the future thinks you’re an utter misogynist. Peace, my sister?

COMMENT 2 BY KATHRYN (PUBLISHED THEN DELETED BY CRANKY BLOG OWNER)

Dear Cranky,

I noticed you didn’t print my comment. I’m sorry if I offended you, but I found your attitude to be honestly shocking for a self-proclaimed supporter of women’s rights, and thought our difference of opinion was a subject worthy of debate. I do appreciate the efforts of previous generations on behalf of women’s rights. I especially found the gap between your own opinion and my son’s to be interesting. It was roughly analogous to someone trying to convince him that an 8-track would be more fun than his Ipad. It was also noteworthy that while my son has been brought up to practice the chivalrous manners that you prize, he read your opinion and thought it was overly old-fashioned. (In the interest of accuracy, his exact phrase was, “The writer sounds like a bit of a creep.” Sorry, he’s twelve.) I’m curious as to why you declined to print the comment. I would hope that if you’re going to post controversial statements, you’d have the courage of your convictions to want to debate alternate points of view. Please feel free to email me privately if you’re uncomfortable printing a different point of view on your blog. Again, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. If you’d said you believed in ‘traditional values’, ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ etc., I wouldn’t have bothered to write, but for someone who experienced the blatant sexism of the sixties, etc., to write as you did was astonishing to me. For one woman’s feminism to be another boy’s sexism was to me worthy of discussion.

(COMMENT POSTED BY CRANKY BLOG OWNER)

I think you have me mistaken for someone who blogs to debate issues until they run out of breath. I’m sorry; my blogs are my views; my thoughts and my feelings, whatever the subject. I never expect all my readers to agree with my views; that’s not what I write them for. If I wanted that, I would stay on subjects such as how thrilling it was to walk my dog. I don’t claim to represent all people, and I am not afraid to stand by my words. What I don’t do, is debate; I allow my readers their say; just as they allow me to say them.

Your comments didn’t hurt my feelings; I have a tough hide. What your comments did was what you wanted them to do. And that was to insult the writer. To compare my views with the Taliban is so insulting that I have given great thought all evening to reporting you to WordPress. How dare you! And to imply that I advocate the thinking of the scum that rape women and use the “they were asking for it” logic..is unforgivable.

There is one thing to disagree with a post..it is quite another to openly bully and insult a writer. You have a right to state your views without being called “creepy.” And I have a right not to print your comments or debate an issue.

FINAL COMMENT BY KATHRYN (PUBLISHED THEN DELETED BY CRANKY BLOG OWNER)

If you actually ‘allowed your readers their say,’ you would have printed my original comment. You’re contradicting yourself. Please feel free to report my exercise of free speech to WordPress. You seem to be as confused about the First Amendment as you are about feminism. It’s interesting that you threaten to seek official punishment for someone whose mere words bother you.

For someone who claims to be offended by any comparison to the Taliban (thank you for manipulating my comment by not properly quoting it, that was a nice touch) you do seem to share a lot of their values–suppression of speech, judging women on their dress and sexuality, taking pride in good old-fashioned values like deeming female nonvirgins unworthy of male respect, etc. I hope the abayas worn by some of the women in Egypt who were raped by people who also feel entitled to judge women’s worth based on their attire and condition of their hymen meet with your quaint sartorial approval.

It is sad to see someone who claims to support women’s rights internalize and spout such blatantly sexist statements as you did, without any self-awareness on your part. I am also sorry that the words of a child upset you so. I again apologize for my child’s statement that he finds misogynists in general, and your attitude in particular, to be that of, “a bit of a creep.” I also had no intention of bullying you, and did not in fact do so. As for insulting you, if having your sexist statements and logic commented on constitutes your definition of insult, then perhaps you should simply stop being a sexist. Politeness does not require us to ignore sexist, racist, or other hateful statements. Perhaps someone should report your misogynistic post to WordPress instead. Well, I’m off to measure my hem-length to see if I deserve respect and the opportunity to walk safely down American streets.

———————————————————

Great (and funny!) analysis Kathryn, thank you for sharing it with us.  I was most especially impressed with your 12-year-old son’s impressive bullshit detecting ability — well done in the child-rearing department!

What say you, readers?

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3 thoughts on “Internalizing Our Oppression: Exhibit A

  1. wileywitch says:

    Hello. I just finished reading, “Loving to Survive” by Dee L.R. Graham. Societal Stockholm Syndrome— “kindness,” and “chivalry” is necessary to the formation of Stockholm Syndrome, and it enforces male dominance and female submission. Cranky’s got it bad.

    On one hand, elderly women with no social support are extremely vulnerable and are generally maligned and seen as useless. Wanting to be treated kindly is understandable, especially when younger women seem just as eager to throw her away.

    On the other hand, what she wants to hearken back to has always been her future under capitalistic patriarchy. She can’t make any more babies, and what man would want to fuck HER, anyway?

    It wasn’t until I found a black feminist website that I finally managed find portals to feminist websites that weren’t dedicated mostly to pop culture and making fun of misogynist pundits and legislatures that are busy pulling the rug out from under us and would burn us at the stake if they could.

    I want to see more intersection and more anger.

    • Feminist Rag says:

      Hi wileywitch, I’ve been appreciating your comments, thanks for visiting. That book sounds interesting, I think I’ll put it on my To-Read list.

      Agreed that Cranky sounds like she suffers from some stockholm syndrome; I think we all do to some degree, with some of us taking it out on those who we think most closely represent The Problem.

      When it comes to elderly women, I was under the naive assumption that they were all relatively sweet women with much wisdom to offer, despite (or forgetting) the fact that years ago I worked in a few nursing homes and have dealt with some very nasty, manipulative elderly women (some elderly men were physically or sexually abusive, while the women were psychologically so, and it was the psychological shit that really got under my skin).

      Fast forward to today and icing on the elderly cake is one particular ignorant, cruel and manipulative elderly woman who is popular and considered a pillar of her community and is seen as doing no wrong, so anything I say against her would be taken as a lie and perceived as an effort to malign her in some way. All of which keep women like her in unearned positions of power/privilege which results in harm.

      The elderly woman I speak of and her circle of people have physically and psychologically abused a disabled woman, and when asked kindly to stop, they turned around and tried accusing the accusers of elder abuse! Reminds me of certain feminists being challenged on their privilege and asked to give some of it up, then turning around and charging those asking this with “abuse.” It’s sad and disgusting and frustrating and sometimes scary how things get so twisted in our Relations with eachother, and how abusers/privileged/colonists stay on top, and the marginalized remain misunderstood and oppressed. I have much anger around this, but beneath that is much sadness, because it really hurts.

      Re. intersectionality: I would like to see more too — the real kind where all sorts of diverse people come together, share their experiences, celebrate and RESPECT our differences and boundaries, and come together in our commonalities. This is messy business because the colonist culture is founded ON trampling people’s boundaries, so it’s (too) often a difficult and painful effort to try the simplest of Relating.

  2. wileywitch says:

    http://radfem.org/ You know this place? Free out-of-print rad feminist books.

    I used to love elderly women, from the time I was a child until my late twenties, then I began to notice that a lot of elderly women were tight-lipped, abusive, hyper-Protestant cranks. I later figured out that the “elderly” women I adored were women who remembered the Great Depression— New Deal Democrats that were community conscious, people people, spiritually strong. Writ large, they had to have contributed to the lousy character of their children one way or another— but damn!

    I’ve been an in-home, live-in caregiver since 1999. Am on my last client. When I can’t do this anymore, I’ll be officially disabled with MS. I live in Oregon. There is home care here.

    I hear you about boundaries. I feel that way about most men, and Oprah-fied women who can hear a few keywords then tell you what your problem is and what you ought to do about it on your first meeting.

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